In its short-term outlook on arable crops, meat and dairy markets, the EC said this year’s EU cereal harvest would reach a record of 317 million tons.
The majority of this would be soft wheat (146m tons) and grain maize (72m tons).
This record harvest was due to increased planting areas of soft wheat – up one million hectares – and higher average yields – up an average of 3.3% on last year, all favored by good climatic conditions, the EC said.
“Summer weather conditions have been favorable for the development of all summer crops, providing the necessary moisture and temperature for good biomass development.”
Among EU cereal producers, Spain was the only country that suffered unfavorable climatic conditions and thus reported a 21% decrease in cereal production, it added.
Warning: Wheat quality issues
Despite the increased volumes, the EC warned of quality concerns for wheat.
“Excessive scattered August rains during the harvesting period in central and northern EU, northern Italy and especially France, caused concern about the quality of wheat,” it said.
Due to the lower protein content in the grains, “significant volumes will be downgraded from milling to feed quality, especially in France, contributing to a reduction in compound feed prices”.
This echoed sentiments from Helen Plant, senior analyst at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), last month over wheat quality concerns, particularly in France.
She said the country had provisionally estimated only 59% of wheat would be good for milling.
Maize yields up despite lower planting area
While maize had not yet been harvested at the time of the EC’s report, it said production was set to reach record levels of 71.8m tons, up 10% on 2013. This increase would come despite a 2% lower planting area, it said.
“Summer rain, when not extreme, was beneficial for the development of extremely good yields (up 12%). Thanks to warmer climatic conditions, eastern areas expect maize harvest to take place two to three weeks earlier than usual.”
The record EU cereal production should allow for strong exports during the 2014/15 marketing year, the EC said.
Exports would likely reach an average of 34.5m tons – up from the normal levels of 30m tons.
In the last marketing year, France, Germany, Romania and Lithuania were the main exporters of wheat. The main origins of EU barley exports were France, Germany, Belgium and Romania.